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Gay, lesbian couples rush to marry at Wisconsin courthouses

BY M.L. JOHNSON
ASSOCIATED PRESS

MILWAUKEE -- Dozens of gay couples got married at courthouses in Milwaukee and Madison early Saturday, taking advantage of what may be a small window in which to get hitched before the state's same-sex marriage ban is reinstated, at least temporarily.

Milwaukee County Clerk Joe Czarnezki said couples were lined up outside his courthouse at 6 a.m., three hours before it opened. Within 30 minutes of opening, about 45 couples had applied for marriage licenses.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb issued her ruling Friday afternoon just as the gay festival PrideFest was starting in Milwaukee. Many couples who married Saturday morning said they had elected to attend the festival the night before since they already had plans with friends. Then they got up early and went to the courthouse.

Craig Cook and Marshall Draper arrived about 8:30 a.m. and found nearly two dozen couples in line ahead of them. Cook, 43, said he and others had been hoping Crabb would make a decision in time for PrideFest. He and Marshall planned to go back to the festival Saturday after being married by a Unitarian minister outside the courthouse.

"Had this been legal, we probably would have done this 20 years ago," Cook said. He said he and Marshall would likely have a reception in a few weeks, but "this was as formal a wedding as I've ever wanted."

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